Migraine does not cause a fever. If a severe headache and fever occur together, it is likely due to another health condition, which may be infectious.

A migraine headache involves severe pain that generally starts on one side of the head. Specialists do not diagnose migraine until the symptoms have happened on at least five occasions.

Migraine triggers vary widely, and for some people, symptoms of another illness can trigger a migraine headache. However, in many cases, a severe headache and a fever result from a condition other than migraine.

Below, we explore health conditions that are more likely to cause a severe headache and a fever.

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The symptoms of COVID-19 differ from person to person, and some people have a headache.

One study found that 98% of participants with COVID-19 had headaches. These lasted an average of 1 week, but 13% of the participants had a headache that lasted for over a month.

There have been a few reports of people with COVID-19 experiencing migraine episodes. These people had dealt with migraine for years before getting COVID-19. Migraine is not a direct result of COVID-19.

Other potential symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • a fever
  • a new loss of taste or smell
  • fatigue
  • a dry cough
  • shortness of breath
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • a sore throat

Anyone with a headache and other COVID-19 symptoms should seek testing as soon as possible and otherwise stay home.

Headaches and a high fever can be symptoms of long COVID, which involves some COVID-19 symptoms persisting or developing for weeks, months, or even longer.

Learn more about long COVID and its symptoms.

Migraine usually causes a severe headache, but it does not cause fever. Below, learn about health issues that can cause both a headache and a fever, many of which are infectious.


Influenza, or the flu, is a common condition caused by an influenza virus. Some people with the flu have a mild illness, but it can be severe, particularly for older people and infants.

A headache is a common flu symptom, and the flu can make an existing migraine headache worse. This may happen due to increased sinus pressure.

For most people with the flu, the headache is mild and goes away on its own. Other flu symptoms can include:

  • a runny nose
  • aching muscles
  • fatigue
  • a cough
  • chills
  • a fever

The majority of flu cases improve with rest and home care. But anyone with a higher risk of complications may benefit from antiviral drugs, which can reduce the severity of symptoms and speed up recovery.

Epstein-Barr virus

The Epstein-Barr virus is one of the most common causes of viral infection in humans. It generally spreads through bodily fluids, particularly saliva.

This virus is perhaps best known for causing mononucleosis, an infection common in teenagers that is also known as mono or glandular fever. Some of the symptoms include:

  • a headache
  • a fever
  • body aches
  • severe tiredness
  • a sore throat

A headache caused by mono tends to feel more like a tension headache than a migraine headache. Treatment for mono typically involves a few weeks of rest and hydration.

Sinus headache

Sinus headaches occur when there is pressure or inflammation inside the sinuses. These are small cavities behind the eyebrows and in the cheeks. When the sinuses become blocked or infected, a resulting headache can feel very similar to a migraine headache.

A sinus headache and a fever can stem from a sinus infection. The other symptoms include:

  • pain and pressure in the face
  • a sore throat
  • a runny or stuffy nose
  • a cough

Most sinus infections resolve on their own with rest and home care. Treatment may include decongestants, steam, or warm compresses.

If a person has a fever, and the doctor finds that the infection is bacterial, they may prescribe an antibiotic.

The coughing that stems from a sinus infection may trigger a migraine headache.

Sinus headaches are sometimes misdiagnosed as migraine headaches, due to some common triggers, pain locations, and other symptoms. Research from 2013 points out that health experts should better distinguish the diagnostic criteria for sinus conditions and migraine.

Hemiplegic migraine

The only condition that causes a migraine headache and fever is called hemiplegic migraine. It also causes weakness on one side of the body.

Hemiplegic migraine may be “familial,” if at least one other family member has it, or “sporadic,” when there is no family history.

Some other symptoms of this type of migraine include:

  • tiredness
  • numbness
  • impaired coordination
  • issues with vision

Severe attacks of hemiplegic migraine can lead to fever, seizures, or coma.

Hemiplegic migraine is extremely rare and occurs in approximately 0.01% of the general population.

Healthcare professionals may use anti-inflammatory drugs, tricyclic antidepressants, antiseizure medications, and a variety of other drugs to treat it.


Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that surround the brain, and this can cause a headache.

Meningitis may be due to an infection, an autoimmune disorder or cancer, or a reaction to a drug, for example. Depending on the cause and severity, it can be life threatening.

Typical symptoms include:

  • a fever
  • neck pain or stiffness
  • light sensitivity

A person may also experience dizziness, confusion, and nausea and vomiting, as well as a headache.


Encephalitis refers to inflammation of the brain. It is uncommon and can be very dangerous.

A person first typically has flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature and a headache. The following symptoms may then develop over hours, days, or weeks:

  • confusion or disorientation
  • seizures
  • changes in personality and behavior
  • difficulty speaking
  • weakness or loss of movement in some parts of the body
  • loss of consciousness

Anyone who has any of these symptoms should receive immediate medical care.

Dental abscesses

A dental abscess is a collection of pus in the teeth or gums. It results from a bacterial infection around or in a tooth.

Symptoms commonly include:

  • a fever
  • pain
  • an unpleasant taste in the mouth

A person needs emergency medical care if a dental abscess occurs with:

  • a high temperature
  • a decreased level of consciousness
  • a headache
  • dehydration


A cancerous tumor can cause many symptoms, and sometimes it causes none.

Some common signs and symptoms of cancer include:

  • pain, including a headache
  • a fever
  • fatigue
  • changes in bowel or bladder function
  • unusual bleeding or discharge
  • a lump

Here, learn about other causes of headache and a fever.

Self-care techniques cannot cure migraine, but they may help reduce the symptoms. A person can:

  • place a cool compress on their forehead
  • lie down in a silent, dark room
  • take over-the-counter pain medication
  • rest or sleep

These strategies may also help with headaches caused by other conditions, such as the flu or a sinus infection.

It can be difficult to determine whether symptoms indicate a severe headache or a migraine episode.

Before a person receives a migraine diagnosis, a doctor considers these criteria:

  • whether the person has had at least five migraine episodes, each lasting 4–72 hours
  • whether any pain occurs on one side of the head
  • whether there is any accompanying vomiting or nausea
  • whether there is a pulsing or throbbing sensation
  • whether there are any changes in vision

A number of medications can prevent or treat migraine episodes.

Calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants can help prevent these episodes, for example.

Research has also shown that acupuncture may prevent a migraine attack or prevent one in an early stage from worsening.

Health experts recommend that people who experience frequent migraine episodes get regular exercise. Even low-impact exercises have shown promise in preventing episodes.

Anyone with a severe headache and a fever should receive prompt medical care and guidance. If the pain is debilitating, consider an urgent visit to a healthcare facility.

Headaches that occur with a fever may not be related to migraine, but they can stem from serious illnesses, many of which are infectious.

Anyone with migraine but no fever should see a doctor if:

  • They have more than one migraine episode per week.
  • Migraine begins to interfere with regular activities, such as work or school.
  • Over-the-counter medication is insufficient to ease the pain and other symptoms.

In general, anyone experiencing frequent, severe headaches should contact a doctor. Only a healthcare professional can diagnose migraine and provide the right management and treatment recommendations.

Migraine does not cause a fever, and in most cases, a fever and a headache stem from a different health issue, such as an infection.

In some cases, however, the symptoms of another illness can trigger a migraine episode.

Anyone with a fever and a headache should consult a medical professional or seek testing for COVID-19. With adequate rest and proper medical attention, most causes of a fever plus a headache resolve over time.